An investigation of children reading print and television narratives
This thesis is a study of the ways a group of primary school children read print and television narratives. It begins by exploring everyday views of reading and television, arguing that such views are not natural or universal but are culturally constructed. The thesis continues by presenting an alternative view of these two concepts drawn from the research literature, framed around the question "How do we read?". This looks at the respective roles of reader, text and community as considered by pedagogical, literary and media theory before examining existing research comparing reading and television viewing. The issues raised by this review are developed into a theoretical consideration of the relationship between language, thought and culture which argues for the pivotal role of narrative in this relationship and the role of narrative in the reading process, which it suggests should be seen as a social act. The presentation and analysis of data begins with a consideration of the social contexts in which the children in the study watch television and read, followed by an investigation of the expectations which the children bring to the viewing or reading process from these contexts and by a detailed analysis of the children's approaches when reading three television and three printed narratives. The conclusion argues that, despite the differences in the two media, children draw on their underlying knowledge of narrative to transcend these differences and so do use similar strategies in each situation. Most significant here is the collaborative nature of the children's responses and their use of modality features to adjust their expectations and interpretations. The thesis argues that recent contributions to the debate about pedagogy do not take sufficient account of children's prior knowledge as shown by this study and that teachers should be encouraged to extend their strategies for doing so.